14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2000
This album came as a revelation to me in high school, absorbed as I was in sorting through the metal bins at record shops in the early 80's, searching for the latest Venom, Maiden, or Frost release. From the gothic script of the logo on the black front cover to the black and white band photo on the back, this release portrays a decidedly retro look. I had friends who were into punk, so I felt adventurous picking up something from SST. Upon playing the album, I laughed aloud at the irony of accidentally buying the one true heavy metal release from the label! This is a garage version of 1970-72 Ozzy-era Black Sabbath with a voice that I can only compare to the singer in Sir Lord Baltimore. Blown tube-amps and, except for the title track, super echoey, tortured slow songs comprise the sound and direction of Saint Vitus's debut. I have heard the band's other releases, and they are all solid (with the possible exception of the 'Children of Doom' album), but the debut is their best because, to my ears, the vocals of their second vocalist Wino drift periously close to grunge, and Vitus's original singer Scott Reager never again sounded as mournful and eerie as he does here. One highlight of the album is the 'two glass bottles clinking together' sound on one track that reminds me of the Coney Island climax from the film 'The Warriors'. I have never seen this album lauded in the metal press; in fact, if Vitus is mentioned at all anymore, it is in connection with the career of Wino Weinrich, who doe not appear on this album. Saint Vitus's debut remains overlooked.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on July 7, 2008
There are so many doom/stoner/sludge/funeral, and whatever other billion terms there are for slow metal, bands that it's hard to sort through what's good and what's crap. Almost every doom release touts that it's like Sabbath stepped into a time machine but that's rarely the case, but here we get an enjoyable early Sabbath-esque album. It should be understood that the music on this disc is fairly old material, Saint Vitus released a rehearsal tape under the name Tyrant in either 78 or 79, which had songs from this self titled release as well as songs from Hallow's Victim. With their formation in the late 70's, it's not hard to see why they captured the depressed mood of the first Sabbath album, without the blues rock influence, so well, there really wasn't anything else around to ruin their vision. A couple things I like about St. Vitus, besides their music, is that they aren't overly evil, they don't put off a corny vibe that so many doom bands bring to the table, they also don't talk about hitting the bong every other line, which again is refreshing. On the other hand, St. Vitus were not a Christian band, as I've read a few people saying, I've never read anything that has led me to believe this. I've read Chandler (guitar) say that they didn't want to be overly evil but never anything about them being Christian...so back off religious nuts, you can't have our metal!
The reviewer under me hit the nail on the head, when it comes to the vocal department Reagers manages to be completely original and amazing at the same time. Wino, who joined the band on either the Thirsty And Miserable 12" EP or Born Too Late (not sure what came out first), does sound a little cheesy, like a grunge singer. It's not his fault though, as Born Too Late came out in 87 and he had been singing in The Obsessed before that, well before the crap, grunge genre...so blame Pearl Jam and Stone Temple Pilots.
So on to the music, Dave Chandler is awesome on guitar, he's not a E. Van Halen clone, but he brings an original tone and style...his all over the place solos could be mildly compared to Greg Ginn of Black Flag, but Chandler seems more focused whereas Ginn really does go all over the place. The bass is really of no importance here, which is a shame, but with Chandler's tone so deep, it's a little hard to distinguish what's what. The drums are decent, they won't blow you away like Bill Ward, but they're solid. The album starts off with Saint Vitus which is a good track but the weakest on here, in my opinion, and not just because it's the fastest, it just doesn't have as good a melody as the rest. White Magic/Black Magic is where this album starts to take off, it's opening beat reminds me of an indian tribe dance and then BOOM, it takes off into such a simple, but crushing riff, the vocal melody sails right along side and melds perfectly. Zombie Hunger is next, my favorite track, this song creeps along and will haunt your brain for days. Next up is The Psychopath, a real plodder with little chord change and clocking in at almost 10 minutes, it might get lost on you but it's still a decent song. Last up is Burial At Sea, the third best song on here. This definitely doesn't sound like a burial at sea as much as it does a slaughtering at sea, the riff is very slow and frustrated and again the vocal melodies are great and will stick with you. So overall we have 3 tracks that are complete tens, 1 at about an eight and a half, and 1 at around seven...so that all adds up to a 5/5 from me.
When I think Doom Metal I think the first 6 Sabbath, Witchfinder General, Trouble's Psalm 9, Pentagram's first offerings and SAINT VITUS' albums with Reagers on vox. If you buy this and you really like the first track then you'll like Hallow's Victim, as that's a faster album overall, Die Healing is also pretty good but there are some throwaway tracks. Born Too Late is good for what it is, but it would have killed with Reagers on vox. One more thing, why are St. Vitus' first two albums still not re-released? C'mon SST, what, are you allergic to selling albums and making money?